September 26, 2005

Lee Decries Vote Against Naming Post Office for Local Leader

(Washington, DC) – Today, in a contentious vote, the House voted 215-190 against HR 438, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) to name the post office building at 2000 Allston Way in Berkeley after former Berkeley City Councilmember and Vice-Mayor, Maudelle Shirek.

“Maudelle Shirek is a woman whose leadership, service and commitment to our community are a testament to what is great about our nation, and she deserves to be honored,” said Lee.

“That a Republican from Iowa could launch a campaign to deny naming a local post office after this 94 year old civil rights leader, who until recently was the oldest and one of the longest serving elected officials in California, is just shameful.”

“Mr. King’s campaign of innuendo and unsubstantiated ‘concern’ is better suited to the era of Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover than today’s House of Representatives.”

A granddaughter of slaves, Shirek left her rural Arkansas home and came to California in the middle of World War II. She was active in campaigning for fair housing and other civil rights for African Americans. She helped found two Berkeley senior centers, and until her health started to slow her down, she helped deliver meals to shut-in seniors.

Shirek entered elected politics in 1983 after being forced to retire from a senior center for having reached the age of 72. Soon after her election to Berkeley City Council, she helped end the discriminatory policy of mandatory retirement in Berkeley city agencies. Until she stepped down last fall, she was the oldest and one of the longest-serving elected officials in California. She turned 94 in June.